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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Insightful observations about Gov Sarah Palin.

Meghan O'Rourke offered one of the more insightful observations I've seen about Gov Sarah Palin's self-presentation:

Sarah Palin reminds me of a character in a George Saunders story. Saunders writes brilliant short stories about characters trapped in the American DreamTM. They are workers at theme parks or Hooters-style restaurants, mummified in corporate-sponsored "flair" (to borrow from the brilliant film Office Space). They speak in the same style of substanceless perk. They are to humanity what MSG is to flavor. (At least, some are.) Palin is, of course, far more successful than many of Saunders' characters, and I don't make the comparison merely to caricature her but to capture what I think is crucial about her. She buys into a whole vocabulary of signifiers that often don't signify very much, and she scaffolds that lexicon with winks, smiles, and carefully mimed gestural reinforcement. All politicians employ empty rhetoric, of course. But I don't know that I've ever seen one employ superficial language with such a sense of palpable enjoyment at her (or his, of course) mastery. And just like Saunders' characters, she refuses to show vulnerability or hesitation, deploying rapid-fire prepackaged phrases like a missile shield, as if the silence that comes with groping for ideas were deadly. . . .

A lot of the original media coverage of Palin was confused by things about her that derive, it seems to me, from the fact that she's a woman in the West. . . . But what's *not* Western about Palin is how avidly she's borrowed and inhabited the language of cute-can-do-ism that's exploited by companies to lull workers into taking pleasure in how much of their time is given over to "breakout sessions" and the business of being an employee.

Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias calls Palin "the metacandidate," expanding on an observation made by Jim Henley to argue that "ordinary people prefer a candidate who talks about the problems facing ordinary people rather than a candidate who talks about how she's a symbolic instantiation of the Idea of Ordinariness." After all, who in America really thinks of themselves as "Joe Sixpack"?

Of course, you might also enjoy "Saturday Night Live"'s take on the vice presidential debate:

Copyright © 2008 by Philocrites | Posted 5 October 2008 at 9:12 PM

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10 comments:

Jess:

October 6, 2008 12:56 AM | Permalink for this comment

She’s like a pixie stick — brightly colored, and yet full of empty, overly sweet calories. Then you’re left with a soggy, hollow, paper tube and a bad taste in your mouth, not to mention the sugar crash about twenty minutes later.

Nathan:

October 6, 2008 08:41 AM | Permalink for this comment

As an english major, I turn to literature for understandng. When I think of Sarah Palin I think of G. B. Shaw's play "Pygmalion," which is the basis for theplay and movie "My Fair Lady." Sarah Palin is the Liza Doolittle of the Republican Party. I guess you can call John McCain the Republican Prof. Higgins. Or he might simply be a dirty old man.

Philocrites:

October 6, 2008 08:50 AM | Permalink for this comment

The way Palin announces that she's the symbol of Ordinariness also reminded me of Lena Lamont in "Singin' in the Rain," who complains, in her irritating accent, "People! I ain't people! I am a . . . 'shimmering, glowing star in the cinema FURmiMINT.' It says so [pointing to the papers] . . . right here!"

Chalicechick:

October 6, 2008 09:14 AM | Permalink for this comment

When I watched this, there was an actual McCain-Palin ad right next to it. Looking back and forth between Palin and Fey was fun.

CC

Dave B.:

October 6, 2008 06:51 PM | Permalink for this comment

A woman friend of mine labeled Sarah Palin "redneck cheesecake". I think that was the funniest description of the governor.

Dudley M Jones:

October 7, 2008 12:53 PM | Permalink for this comment

Would someone please explain why UUs would never use the racial / ethic words I am afraid to refer to even by their famous initials, but do not hesitate to use words like "redneck" or "wasp"?

No, I am not some kind of closet conservative.

Philocrites:

October 7, 2008 02:02 PM | Permalink for this comment

Dudley, I have no idea whether Dave B. (or his friend, whose comment he was quoting) is a UU. In any event, politics doesn't bring out our higher selves.

NDM:

October 10, 2008 11:10 PM | Permalink for this comment

What I don't get, and never seem to get an answer from anyone in high office on, is how these folks reconcile waving the Jesus flag (or political ideology) while behaving in ways that are clearly contrary to the faith they claim to profess. More to the point, I don't get why the public let's them get away with this. I want a debate where that question is asked-please tell me how making half-true statements and outright lies jives with Jesus?

Paul Maurice Martin:

October 16, 2008 10:15 AM | Permalink for this comment

It's become so... uninspiring. I'm normally interested in political debates but it's become a silly exercise in - I don't really even know what to call it.

I suppose "democracy," but even that seems far fetched. You only get to run for higher office if you're fabulously wealthy or well connected.

I somehow don't feel represented.

"Joe Sixpack"

gaudete:

October 22, 2008 09:14 AM | Permalink for this comment

I always find the rhetorical code words and phrases of liberals both amusing and sad. "Hooters-style" restaurant: we goody-goodies would never be caught dead in one of those awful places, would we? (except maybe on vacation in another city.)Plus, its at least a subliminal bash at Gov. Palin's physical qualities.

"Theme park..." Again, we holier than thou lefties would never attend such a gauche place. (might as well have said trailer park)

I think most of Gov. Palin's verbal presentation can be chalked up to her having been a sportscaster for a brief while, and also a beauty pageant contestant (o my, how declasse)



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